Cafe Europa Bistro and Wine Bar

Cafe Europa in Portsmouth Virginia is in a category of it’s own. Fine dining that is influence by French, Italian, and Mediterranean cuisines.

Portsmouth Virginia is home to one of the finest restaurants on the East Coast, Cafe Europa. Dining at Cafe Europa you get the feeling that you are dining at a French restaurant, but the truth is Chef Michael serves up French and Italian dishes, with a Mediterranean influence. Cafe Europa is a Bistro in the truest sense of the word. They are a small unpretentious restaurant that serves an international cuisine. To give you an impression of how good Cafe Europa is, people boating up and down the coast of Virginia, will turn up the Elizabeth River and dock in Portsmouth, just to have a meal there. This is saying something when they could just as easy dock on the other side of the river and eat at one of the many fine restaurants in Norfolk.

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Cafe Europa Polenta Gorgonzola

On this particular evening we were served up two outstanding appetizers Polenta Gorgonzola and Mussels Marinieres. My personal favorite is Cafe Europa’s Polenta Gorgonzola. The polenta is grilled and then rested on a rich and decadent Gorgonzola cheese sauce. This is a little slice of heaven and my favorite way to eat polenta.

Clams
Mussels Marinieres

The Mussels Marinieres is served in a white wine and butter herb sauce. The sauce is exquisite. Make sure you ask for extra bread to soak up the sauce.  The Mussels Marinieres is not on the menu, it is usually offered as an appetizer special. On the menu they do offer a Mussels Provencal, the difference is it is served with a Pernod, tomato based sauce. Either appetizer will be a special treat.

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Cafe Europa Hungarian Veal

Have you ever had veal that melts in your mouth? Whether you have or haven’t, Cafe Europa’s Hungarian Veal with Potato Noki was the star of the evening. The tomato-based sauce with it’s hint of paprika is Chef Michael’s way of paying homage to flavors of the Mediterranean. The sauce is a perfect accompaniment to the veal. I had to ask for another couple pieces of bread to lap up the sauce. The veal is so tender, it just melts in your mouth. I seriously considered asking for another order to go. This has to be the best veal I have ever had.

Apple Galette
Apple Galette

All of Cafe Europa’s desserts are made in house. As with the appetizers, every night the dessert menu changes. Talk about a challenge for the waitress, imagine having to memorize 16 or so desserts every night.  You would be hard pressed not to find something you desire. Dessert this evening consisted of a slice of Apple Galette, pictured, and slice of Conversation Tart. The Conversation Tart is a puff pastry filled with an almond filling.  I have tried my fair share of their desserts; I have never been disappointed.

Looking for an intimate evening out, or dining at a restaurant that leaves you feeling as if you just had a meal with old friends, Cafe Europa is definitely worth checking out. If you are in the Portsmouth or Norfolk Virginia area, call and reserve a table at Cafe Europa Bistro and Wine Bar. Have you been to Cafe Europa or have a favorite Bistro, share your comments below.

C&D Bar and Grill

Melt in your mouth Filet Mignon awaits at C&D Bar and Grill.

Talk about a pleasant accident. I was told about a family owned restaurant I had to try in New Oxford Pennsylvania. When I got there, the restaurant had a sign on the door saying they were closed for family vacation. Disappointed I looked around and saw C&D Bar and Grill. Not knowing what to expect, I discovered Fine dining in New Oxford.

C&D states on their website they are a casual fine dining restaurant. Looking at the menu, I was struck by the fine dining selections, but looking around the restaurant the clientele was families. Not exactly what I would expect at a fine dining establishment.

It is the little things that matter when you are eating at a restaurant that claims to be fine dining. The first thing I noticed was that they not only bake their own bread in house, but they also bake their own croutons for the salads. A simple salad can be an indication of how good a restaurant is. I chose a simple Caesar salad, but I saw on the menu, a Spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette or a Nicoise as fine dining options. 

C&D Filet Mignon 2
C&D Blue Cheese Filet Mignon

I don’t know that I have ever had a Filet Mignon that melted in your mouth. That was until I tried C&D’s Roquefort Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon.  There is a powerful combination of the Roquefort Blue Cheese and Cabernet demi glaze followed by the melt in your mouth filet Mignon. The chef at C&D has mastered a powerful flavor explosion that comes in every bite. Given how satisfied I was with the filet Mignon, I am interested in going back to try their Blackened Sirloin and New York Strip. C&D has a full seafood selection. A dish worth trying is their Sesame Crusted Tuna, it  has  Asian leanings, with its stir fried vegetables, drizzled with a ginger soy sauce and sriracha aioli.

 

C&D has become one of my new favorite accidental discoveries. If the restaurant was open that I intended on visiting, I would have never discovered this gem. C&D puts their signature on every dish. Their Baklava is a fine way to finish a meal. Their twist is cinnamon sprinkled on top.

C&D Bar and Grill, in New Oxford Pennsylvania needs to be on your places to try. Whether it is date night or a family outing, you will not be disappointed. Have you been to C&D Bar and Grill; do you have a favorite steak and seafood restaurant, let me know in the comment section.

Dobbin House Tavern

The Dobbin House is fine dinning in Gettysburg, PA.

When asked what I wanted for my birthday, I said I wanted to go to the Dobbin House for dinner. I had read that the Dobbin House was the oldest home in Pennsylvania. The house was established by Alexander Dobbin in 1776. Today the house has been fully restored. According to their web-site, National Register of Historic Places states, “The Dobbin House is a colonial restaurant where candlelit elegance, superior food in abundance, and gracious service bring back the sights, sounds and tastes of two centuries ago.”

Dobbin House Interior
Dobbin House Dinning Area

Every room in the Dobbin house gives you the impression of elegance. Whether it is a night out with that special someone, or a celebration, the Dobbin House is the place to go. Each room is elegantly decorated, adding the ambience is the candles at each table. When you are finished or while waiting to dine, you can visit their museum and see how they played a part in the underground railroad.

Dobbin House Steak
New York Strip Steak

The Dobbin House menu is limited by design, with a selection of Steak, Seafood, and Poultry. It was hard to decide, with everything sounding delicious. We selected the New York Colony Strip Steak and the Fresh Catch of the Day which happened to be Salmon. The one thing that struck me as strange, when the bread was brought to the table, I was surprised to find lukewarm dinner rolls, that you can find in any supermarket. We have the impression they were heated in the microwave. I would have expected that they bake their own rolls. Aside from this my meal was OK. The steak was cooked to my preference of medium rare, it was seasoned just right. I have no real complaints. At the same time, I have had better steak at chain restaurants.

Dobbin House Salmon
Dobbin House Salmon

The Salmon on the other hand was under seasoned. It is a major turn off when a person has to reach for the salt, to add seasoning to a dish. The Salmon was underwhelming. It just didn’t say fine dining. Eatable yes, fine dining, no. A standout of the meal was the soup of the day. For this evening’s meal, they were serving a corn crab soup. Definitely worth trying.

Dobbin House Bar
Spring House Tavern Bar

If you looking for a special night out, the Dobbin House should be on your list of places to try. There were some challenges, especially if you have experienced fine dining. For myself, I will be heading back because I want to try the fare at the Spring House Tavern. The Spring House Tavern is an underground bar that is part of the Dobbin House. Their lunch menu says must try. Let me know your thoughts below. Have you been to the Dobbin House?